Officers from the Environment Agency made more than 300 rod-licence checks during a bank-holiday blitz on anglers fishing illegally in the North East.
A total of 316 licences were checked at 49 locations from the Coquet to the Tees, with 12 people reported for angling offences, including three in Northumberland.
Anglers were reminded that fishing for coarse fish in rivers is off limits until Monday, June 15, to protect breeding fish.
And officers ensured those fishing the many lakes, rivers, ponds and canals where coarse fishing is still allowed had valid rod licences.
The Environment Agency’s Kevin Summerson said: “During checks officers focused on the areas where offences have previously been detected to ensure the message about illegal fishing is getting through.
“The close season on our rivers is important to maintain healthy stocks, as it allows fish time to breed and spawn.”
People fishing without a valid licence could be fined up to £2,500, have their fishing-equipment seized and be banned from fishing. Fishing during the close season, using banned baits and fishing in prohibited areas, attracts a fine of up to £50,000.
Over the past eight weeks, fisheries enforcement officers have checked 1,529 licensed anglers with a further 54 reported for unlicensed fishing.
The annual licence is £27 for coarse fishing and non-migratory trout, or £72 to also fish for salmon and sea trout.
There are flexible options to choose from, including a one or eight-day licence and junior and concession options.
To buy a rod licence, call 0870 1662662, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/fish or visit your local Post Office.